This is from QuickSprout, this is some good information to be sure.
A rapid stream ran by the writers boyhood home. The stream
turned a wooden wheel and the wheel ran a mill. Under that primitive
method, all but a fraction of the streams potentiality went to waste.
Then someone applied scientific methods to that stream – put in a
turbine and dynamos. Now, with no more water, no more power, it
runs a large manufacturing plant.
We think of that steam when we see wasted advertising power.
And we see it everywhere – hundreds of examples. Enormous
potentialities – millions of circulation – used to turn a mill wheel.
While others use that same power with manifold effect.
We see countless ads running year after year which we know to be
unprofitable. Men spending five dollars to do what one dollar might
do. Men getting back 30 percent of their cost when they might get
150 percent. And the facts could be easily proved.
We see wasted space, frivolity, clever conceits, entertainment.
Costly pages filled with palaver which, if employed by a salesman,
would reflect on his sanity. But those ads are always unkeyed. The
money is spent blindly, merely to satisfy some advertising whim.
Not new advertisers only. Many an old advertiser has little or no
idea of his advertising results. The business is growing through many
efforts combined, and advertising is given its share of the credit.
An advertiser of many years standing, spending as high as
$700,000 per year, told the writer he did not know whether his
advertising was worth anything or not. Sometimes he thought that his
business would be just as large without it.
The writer replied, “I do know. Your advertising is utterly
unprofitable, and I could prove it to you next week. End an ad with
an offer to pay five dollars to anyone who writes you that he read the
ad through. The scarcity of replies will amaze you.”
Think what a confession – that millions of dollars being spent
without knowledge of results. Such a policy applied to all factors in a
business would bring ruin in short order.
You see other ads which you may not like as well. They may seem
crowded or verbose. They are not attractive to you, for you are
seeking something to admire, something to entertain. But you will
note that those ads are keyed. The probability is that out of scores of
traced ads the type which you see has paid the best.
Many other ads which are not keyed now were keyed at the
beginning. They are based on known statistics. They won on a small
scale before they ever ran on large scale. Those advertisers are
utilizing their enormous powers in full.
Advertising is prima facie evidence that the man who pays
believes that advertising is good. It has brought great results to
others, it must be good for him. So he takes it like some secret tonic
which others have endorsed. If the business thrives, the tonic gets
credit. Otherwise, the failure is due to fate.
That seems almost unbelievable. Even a storekeeper who inserts a
twenty-dollar ad knows whether it pays or not. Every line of a big
stores ad is charged to the proper department. And every inch used
must the next day justify its cost.
Yet most national advertising is done without justification. It is
merely presumed to pay. A little test might show a way to multiply
Such methods, still so prevalent, are not very far from their end.
The advertising men who practice them see the writing on the wall.
The time is fast coming when men who spend money are going to
know what they get. Good business and efficiency will be applied to
advertising. Men and methods will be measured by the known
returns, and only competent men can survive.
Only one hour ago an old advertising man said to the writer, “The
day for our type is done. Bunk has lost its power. Sophistry is being
displaced by actuality. And I tremble at the trend.”
So do hundreds tremble. Enormous advertising is being done
along scientific lines. Its success is common knowledge. Advertisers
along other lines will not much longer be content.
We who can meet the test welcome these changed conditions.
Advertisers will multiply when they see that advertising can be safe
and sure. Small expenditures made on a guess will grow to big ones
on a certainty. Our line of business will be finer, cleaner, when the
gamble is removed. And we shall be prouder of it when we are
judged on merit.
There is great advantage in a name that tells a story. The name is
usually prominently displayed. To justify the space it occupies, it
should aid the advertising. Some such names are almost complete
advertisements in themselves. May Breath is such a name. Cream of
Wheat is another. That name alone has been worth a fortune. Other
examples are Dutch Cleanser, Cuticura, Dynashine, Minute Tapioca,
3-in-one Oil, Holeproof, Alcorub, etc.Such names may be protected,
yet the name itself describes the product, so it makes a valuable
Other coined names are meaningless. Some examples are Kodak,
Karo, Sapolio, Vaseline, Kotex, Lux, Postum, etc. They can be
protected, and long-continued advertising may give them a meaning.
When this is accomplished they become very
But the great majority of them never attain status.
Such names do not aid the advertising. It is very doubtful that
they justify display. The service of the product, not the name, is the
important thing in advertising. A vast amount of space is wasted in
displaying names and pictures which tell no selling story. The
tendency of modern advertising is to eliminate waste.
Other coined names signify ingredients which anyone may use.
Examples are Syrup of Figs, Coconut Oil Shampoo, Tar Soap,
Palmolive Soap, etc.
Such products may dominate a market if the price is reasonable,
but they must to a degree meet competition. They invite substitution.
They are naturally classified with other products which have like
ingredients, so the price must remain in that class.
Toasted Corn Flakes and Malted Milk are examples of
unfortunate names. In each of those cases one advertiser created a
new demand. When the demand was created, others shared it because
they could use the name. The originators depended only on a brand.
It is interesting to speculate on how much more profitable a coined
name might have been.
On a patented product it must be remembered that the right to a
name expires with that patent. Names like Castoria, Aspirin,
Shredded Wheat Biscuit, etc., have become common property.
This is a very serious point to consider. It often makes a patent an
Another serious fault in coined names is frivolity. In seeking
uniqueness one gets something trivial. And that is a fatal handicap in
a serious product. It almost prohibits respect.
When a product must be called by a common name, the best
auxiliary name is a mans name. It is much better than a coined name,
for it shows that some man is proud of his creation.
Thus the question of a name is of serious importance in laying the
foundations of a new undertaking. Some names have become the
chief factors in success. Some have lost for their originators four-
fifths of the trade they developed.
This is another phase of advertising which all of us have to
consider. It enters, or should enter, into all campaigns. Every
business man receives a large number of circular letters. Most of
them go direct to the waste basket. But he acts on others, and others
are filed for reference. Analyze those letters. The ones you act on or
the ones you keep have a headline which attracted your interest. At a
glance they offer something that you want, something you may wish
Remember that point in all advertising
A certain buyer spends $50,000,000 per year. Every letter, every
circular which comes to his desk gets its deserved attention. He wants
information on the lines he buys. But we have often watched him. In
one minute a score of letters may drop into the waste basket. Then
one is laid aside. That is something to consider at once. Another is field under the heading
“Varnish.” And later when he buys varnish that letter will turn up.
That buyer won several prizes by articles on good buying. His
articles were based on information. Yet the great masses of matter
which came to him never got more than a glance.
The same principles apply to all advertising. Letter writers
overlook them just as advertisers do. They fail to get the right
attention. They fail to tell what buyers wish to know.
One magazine sends out millions of letters annually. Some to get
subscriptions, some to sell books. Before the publisher sends out five
million letters he puts a few thousands to test. He may try twenty-five
letters, each with a thousand prospects. He learns what results will
cost. Perhaps the plan is abandoned because it appears unprofitable.
If not, the letter which pays best is the letter that he uses.
Just as men are doing now in all scientific advertising.
Mail order advertisers do likewise. They test their letters as they
test their ads. A general letter is never used until it proves itself best
among many actual returns.
Letter writing has much to do with advertising. Letters to
inquirers, follow-up letters. Wherever possible they should be tested.
Where that is not possible, they should be based on knowledge
gained by tests.
We find the same difference in letters as in ads. Some get action,
some do not. Some complete a sale, some forfeit the impression
gained. These are letters, going usually to half-made converts, that are
Experience generally shows that a two-cent letter gets no more
attention than a one-cent letter. Fine stationery no more than poor
stationery. The whole appeal lies in the matter.
A letter which goes to an inquirer is like a salesman going to an
interested prospect. You know what created that interest. Then
follow it up along that line, not on some different argument.
Complete the impression already created. Don’t undertake another
Do something if possible to get immediate action. Offer some
inducement for it. Or tell what delay may cost. Note how many
successful selling letters place a limit on an offer. It expires on a
certain date. That is all done to get prompt decision, to overcome the
tendency to delay.
A mail order advertiser offered a catalog. The inquirer might send
for three or four similar catalogs. He had that competition in making
So he wrote a letter when he sent his catalog, and enclosed a
personal card. He said, “You are a new customer, and we want to
make you welcome. So when you send your order please enclose this
card. The writer wants to see that you get a gift with order something
you can keep.”
With an old customer he gave some other reason for the gift. The
offer aroused curiosity. It gave preference to his catalog. Without
some compelling reason for ordering elsewhere, the woman sent the
order to him. The gift paid for itself several times over by bringing
larger sales per catalog.
The ways for getting action are many. Rarely can one way be
applied to two lines. But the principles are universal. Strike while the
iron is hot. Get a decision then. Have it followed by prompt action
when you can.
You can afford to pay for prompt action rather than lose by delay.
One advertiser induced hundreds of thousands of women to buy six
packages of his product and send him the trademarks, to secure a
premium offer good only for one week.
To attack a rival is never good advertising. Don’t point out others’
faults. It is not permitted in the best mediums. It is never good
policy. The selfish purpose is apparent. It looks unfair, not sporty.
If you abhor knockers, always appear a good fellow.
Show a bright side, the happy and attractive side, not the dark and
uninviting side of things. Show beauty, not homeliness; health, not
sickness. Don’t show the wrinkles you propose to remove, but the
face as it will appear. Your customers know all about wrinkles.
In advertising a dentifrice, show pretty teeth, not bad teeth. Talk
of coming good conditions, not conditions which exist. In advertising
clothes, picture well-dressed people, not the shabby. Picture
successful men, not failures, when you advertise a business course.
Picture what others wish to be, not what they may be now.
We are attracted by sunshine, beauty, happiness, health, success.
Then point the way to them, not the way out of the opposite.
Picture envied people, not the envious.
Tell people what to do, not what to avoid.
Make your every ad breath good cheer. We always dodge a
Lugubrious Blue. Assume that people will do what you ask. Say,
“Send now for this sample.” Don’t say, “Why do you neglect this
offer?” That suggests that people are neglecting. Invite them to
follow the crowd.
Compare the results of two ads, one negative, one positive. One
presenting the dark side, one the bright side. One warning, the other
inviting. You will be surprised. You will find that the positive ad out
pulls the other four to one, if you have our experience.
The “Before and after taking” ads are follies of the past. They
never had a place save with the afflicted. Never let their memory lead
you to picture the gloomy side of things.
A person who desires to make an impression must stand out in
some way from the masses and in a pleasing way. Being eccentric,
being abnormal is not distinction to covet. But doing admirable
things in a different way gives one a great advantage. So with
salesmen, in person or in print. There is uniqueness which belittles
and arouses resentment. There is refreshing uniqueness which
enhances, which we welcome and remember. Fortunate is the
salesman who has it.
We try to give each advertiser a becoming style. We make him
distinctive, perhaps not in appearance, but in manner and in tone. He
is given an individuality best suited to the people he addresses.
One man appears rugged and honest in a line where rugged
honesty counts. One may be a good fellow where choice is a matter
of favor. In other lines the man stands out by impressing himself as
We have already cited a case where a woman made a great success
in selling clothing to girls, solely through a created personality which
That’s why we have signed ads sometimes – to give them a
personal authority. A man is talking – a man who takes pride in his
accomplishments – not a “soulless corporation.” Whenever possible
we introduce a personality into our ads. By making a man famous we
make his product famous. When we claim an improvement, naming
the man who made it adds effect.
Then we take care not to change an individuality which has
proved appealing. Before a man writes a new ad on that line, he gets
into the spirit adopted by the advertiser. He plays a part as an actor
In successful advertising great pains are taken to never change our
tone. That which won so many is probably the best way to win
others. Then people come to know us. We build on that acquaintance
rather than introduce a stranger in guise. People do not know us by
name alone, but by looks and mannerisms. Appearing different every
time we meet never builds up confidence.
Then we don’t want people to think that salesmanship is made to
order. That our appeals are created, studied, artificial. They must
seem to come from the heart, and the same heart always, save where
a wrong tack forces a complete change.
There are winning personalities in ads as well as people. To some
we are glad to listen, others bore us. Some are refreshing, some
commonplace. Some inspire confidence, some caution. To create the
right individuality is a supreme accomplishment. Then an advertisers
growing reputation on that line brings him ever-increasing prestige.
Never weary of that part. Remember that a change in our
characteristics would compel our best friends to get acquainted all
We cannot depend much in most lines on the active help of
jobbers or of dealers. They are busy. They have many lines to
consider. The profit on advertised lines is not generally large. And an
advertised article is apt to be sold at cut prices.
The average dealer does what you would do. He exerts himself on
brands of his own, if at all. Not on another mans brand. The dealers
will often try to make you think otherwise. He will ask some aid or
concession on the ground of extra effort. Advertisers often give extra
discounts. Or they make loading offers -perhaps one case free in ten
- in the belief that loaded dealers will make extra efforts.
This may be so in rare lines, but not generally. And the efforts if
made do not usually increase the total sales. They merely swing trade
from one store to another.
On most lines, making a sale without making a convert does not
count for much. Sales made by conviction – by advertising – are likely
to bring permanent customers. People who buy through casual
recommendations do not often stick. Next time someone else gives
Revenue which belongs to the advertiser is often given away
without adequate return. These discounts and gifts could be far better
spent in securing new customers.
Free goods must be sold, and by your efforts usually. One extra
case with ten means that advertising must sell ten percent more to
bring you the same return. The dealer would probably buy just as
much if you let him buy as convenient.
Much money is often frittered away on other forms of dealer
help. Perhaps on window or store displays. A window display, acting
as a reminder, may bring to one dealer a lions share of the trade. Yet
it may not increase your total sales at all.
Those are facts to find out. Try one town in one way, one in
another. Compare total sales in those towns. In many lines such tests
will show that costly displays are worthless. A growing number of
experienced advertisers spend no money on displays. This is all in
line of general publicity, so popular long ago. Casting bread upon the
waters and hoping for its return. Most advertising was of that sort
twenty years ago.
Now we put things to the test. We compare cost and result on
every form of expenditure. It is very easily done. Very many costly
wastes are eliminated by this modern process.
Scientific advertising has altered many old plans and conceptions.
It has proved many long established methods to be folly. And why
should we not apply to these things the same criterion we apply to
other forms of selling? Or to manufacturing costs?
Your object in all advertising is to buy new customers at a price
which pays a profit. You have no interest in garnering trade at any
particular store. Learn what your consumers cost and what they buy.
If they cost you one dollar each, figure that every wasted dollar costs
you a possible customer.
Your business will be built in that way, not by dealer help. You
must do your own selling, make your own success. Be content if
dealers fill the orders that you bring. Eliminate your wastes. Spend all
your ammunition where it counts for most.
Almost any questions can be answered, cheaply, quickly and
finally, by a test campaign. And that’s the way to answer them – not
by arguments around a table. Go to the court of last resort – the
buyers of your product.
On every new project there comes up the question of selling that
article profitably. You and your friends may like it, but the majority
may not. Some rival product may be better liked or cheaper. It may
be strongly entrenched. The users won away from it may cost too
much to get.
People may buy and not repeat. The article may last too long. It
may appeal to a small percentage, so most of your advertising goes to
waste. There are many surprises in advertising. A project you will
laugh at may make a great success. A project you are sure of may fall
down. All because tastes differ so. None of us know enough peoples
desires to get an average viewpoint.
In the old days, advertisers ventured on their own opinions. The
few guess right, the many wrong. Those were the times of advertising
disaster. Even those who succeeded came close to the verge before
the time is turned. They did not know their cost per customer or
their sale per customer.
The cost of selling might take a long time to come back. Often it
never came back.
Now we let the thousands decide what the millions will do. We
make a small venture, and watch cost and result. When we learn what
a thousand customers cost, we know almost exactly what a million
will cost. When we learn what they buy, we know what a million will
buy We establish averages on a small scale, and those averages always
hold. We know our cost, we know our sale, we know our profit and
loss. We know how soon our cost comes back. Before we spread out,
we prove our undertaking absolutely safe. So there are today no
advertising disasters piloted by men who know.
Perhaps we try out our project in four or five towns. We may use
a sample offer or a free package to get users started quickly. Then we
wait and see if users buy those samples. If they do, will they
continue? How much will they buy? How long does it take for the
profit to return our cost of selling? A test like this may cost $3,000 to
$5,000. It is not all lost, even when the product proves unpopular.
Some sales are made. Nearly every test will in time bring back the
Sometimes we find that the cost of the advertising comes back
before the bills are due. That means that the product can be
advertised without investment. Many a great advertiser has been built
up without any cost whatever beyond immediate receipts. That is an
ideal situation. On another product it may take three months to
bring back the cost with a profit. But one is sure of his profit in that
time. When he spreads out he must finance accordingly.
Think what this means. A man has what he considers an
advertising possibility. But national advertising looks so big and
expensive that he dare not undertake it. Now he presents it in a few
average towns, at a very moderate cost. With almost no risk
whatever. From the few thousand he learns what the millions will do.
Then he acts accordingly. If he then branches he knows to a certainty
just what his results will be.
He is playing on the safe side of a hundred to one shot. If the
article is successful, it may make him millions. If he is mistaken about
it, the loss is a trifle.
These are facts we desire to emphasize and spread. All our largest
accounts are now built in this way, from very small beginnings. When
business men realize that this can be done, hundreds of others will do
it. For countless fortune-earners now lie dormant.
The largest advertiser in the world makes a business of starting
such projects. One by one he finds out winners. Now he has twenty-
six, and together they earn many millions yearly. These test
campaigns have other purposes. They answer countless questions
which arise in business.
A large food advertiser felt that his product would be more
popular in another form. He and all his advisers were certain about it.
They were willing to act on this supposition without consulting the
consumers, but wiser advice prevailed. He inserted an ad in a few
towns with a coupon, good at any store for a package of the new-
style product. Then he wrote to the users about it. They were almost
unanimous in their disapproval.
Later the same product was suggested in still another form. The
previous verdict made the change look dubious. The advertiser hardly
thought a test to be worth while. But he submitted the question to a
few thousand women in a similar way and 91 percent voted for lit.
Now he has a unique product which promises to largely increase his
These tests cost about $1,000 each. The first one saved him a very
costly mistake. The second will probably bring him large profits.
Then we try test campaigns to try out new methods on advertising
already successful. Thus we constantly seek for better methods,
without interrupting plans already proved out.
In five years for one food advertiser we tried out over fifty
separate plans. Every little while we found an improvement, so the
results of our advertising constantly grew. At the end of five years we
found the best plan of all. It reduced our cost of selling by 75
percent. That is, it was four times more effective than the best plan
used before. That is what mail order advertisers do – try out plan after
plan to constantly reduce the cost. Why should any general advertiser
be less business-like and careful?
Another service of the test campaign is this: An advertiser is
doing mediocre advertising. A skilled advertising agent feels that he
can greatly increase results. The advertiser is doubtful. He is doing
fairly well. He has alliances which he hesitates to break. So he is
inclined to let well enough alone.
Now the question can be submitted to the verdict of a test. The
new agent may take a few towns, without interfering with the general
campaign. Then compare his results with the general results and
prove his greater skill.
Plausible arguments are easy in this line. One man after another
comes to an advertiser to claim superior knowledge or ability. It is
hard to decide, and decisions may be wrong. Now actual figures
gained at a small cost can settle the question definitely. The advertiser
makes no commitment. It is like saying to a salesman, “Go out for a
week and prove yourself.” A large percentage of all the advertising
done would change hands if this method were applied.
Again we come back to scientific advertising. Suppose a chemist
would say in an arbitrary way that this compound was best, or that
better. You would little respect his opinion. He makes tests sometimes
hundreds of tests – to actually know which is best. He will
never state a supposition before he has proved it. How long before
advertisers in general will apply that exactness to advertising?
Most advertisers are confronted with the problem of getting
distribution. National advertising is unthinkable without that. A
venture cannot be profitable if nine in ten of the converts fail to find
the goods. To force dealers to stock by bringing repeated demands
may be enormously expensive. To cover the country with a selling
force is usually impossible. To get dealers to stock an unknown line
on promise of advertising is not easy. They have seen to many efforts
fail, too many promises rescinded.
We cannot discuss all plans for getting distribution. There are
scores of ways employed, according to the enterprise. Some start by
soliciting direct sales – mail orders – until the volume of demand
forces dealers to supply. Some get into touch with prospects by a
sample or other offer, then refer them to certain dealers who are
Some well-known lines can get a large percentage of dealers to
stock in advance under guarantee of sale. Some consign goods to
jobbers so dealers can easily order. Some name certain dealers in their
ads until dealers in general stock. The problems in this line are
numberless. The successful methods are many. But most of them
apply to lines too few to be worthy of discussion in a book like this.
We shall deal here with articles of wide appeal and repeated sales,
like foods or proprietary articles. We usually start with local
advertising, even though magazine advertising is best adapted to the
article. We get our distribution town by town, then change to
national advertising. Sometimes we name the dealers who are
stocked. As others stock, we add their names. When a local campaign
is proposed, naming certain dealers, the average dealer wants to be
included. It is often possible to get most of them by offering to name
them in the first few ads.
Whether you advertise few or many dealers, the others will stock
in very short order if the advertising is successful. Then the trade is
referred to all dealers. The sample plans dealt with in the previous
chapter aid quick distribution. They often pay for themselves in this
If the samples are distributed locally, the coupon names the store.
The prospects who go there to get the samples know that those
stores are supplied, if a nearer dealer is not. Thus little trade is lost.
When sample inquiries come to the advertiser, inquiries are referred
to certain dealers at the start. Enough demand is centered there to
force those dealers to supply it.
Sometimes most stores are supplied with samples, but on the
requirement of a certain purchase. You supply a dozen samples with
a dozen packages, for instance. Then inquiries for samples are
referred to all stores. This quickly forces general distribution. Dealers
don’t like to have their customers go to competitors even for a
Where a coupon is used, good at any store for a full-size package,
the problem of distribution becomes simple. Mail to dealers proofs
of the ad which will contain a coupon. Point out to each that many of
his customers are bound to present that coupon. Each coupon
represents a cash sale at full profit. No average dealer will let those
coupon customers go elsewhere.
Such a free-package offer often pays for itself in this way. It forms
the cheapest way of getting general distribution. Some of the most
successful advertisers have done this in a national way. They have
inserted coupon ads in magazines, each coupon good at any store for
a full-size package. A proof of the ad is sent to dealers in advance,
with a list of the magazines to be used, and their circulation.
In this way, in one week sometimes, makers attain a reasonable
national distribution. And the coupon ad, when it appears, completes
it. Here again the free packages cost less than other ways of forcing
distribution. And they start thousands of users besides. Palmolive
Soap and Puffed Grains are among the products which attain their
distribution in that way.
Half the circulation of a newspaper may go to outside towns.
That half may be wasted if you offer a sample at local stores. Say in
your coupon that outside people should write you for a sample.
When they write, do not mail the sample. Send the samples to a local
store, and refer inquiries to that store. Mailing a sample may make a
convert who cannot be supplied. But the store which supplies the
sample will usually supply demand. In these ways, many advertisers
get national distribution without employing a single salesman. They
get it immediately. And they get it at far lower cost than by any other
method. There are advertisers who, in starting, send every dealer a
few packages as a gift. That is better, perhaps, than losing customers
created. But it is very expensive. Those free packages must be sold by
advertising. Figure their cost at your selling price, and you will see
that you are paying a high cost per dealer. A salesman might sell these
small stocks at a lower cost. And other methods might be vastly
Sending stocks on consignment to retailers is not widely favored.
Many dealers resent it. Collections are difficult. And non-businesslike
methods do not win dealer respect.
The plans advocated here are the best plans yet discovered for the
lines to which they apply. Other lines require different methods. The
ramifications are too many to discuss in a book like this.
But don’t start advertising without distribution. Don’t get
distribution by methods too expensive. Or by slow, old-fashioned
methods. The loss of time may cost you enormously in sales. And it
may enable energetic rivals to get ahead of you. Go to men who
know by countless experiences the best plan to apply to your line.
The product itself should be its own best salesman. Not the
product alone, but the product plus a mental impression, and
atmosphere, which you place around it. That being so, samples are of
prime importance. However expensive, they usually form the
cheapest selling method. A salesman might as well go out without his
sample case as an advertiser.
Sampling does not apply to little things alone, like foods or
proprietaries. It can be applied in some way to almost every thing.
We have sampled clothing. We are now sampling phonograph
records.Samples serve numerous valuable purposes. They enable one
to use the word “Free” in ads. That often multiplies readers. Most
people want to learn about any offered gift. Tests often show that
samples pay for themselves – perhaps several times over – in
multiplying the readers of your ads without additional cost of space.
A sample gets action. The reader of your ad may not be
convinced to the point of buying. But he is ready to learn more about
the product that you offer. So he cuts out a coupon, lays it aside, and
later mails it or presents it. Without that coupon he would soon
forget. Then you have the name and address of an interested
prospect. You can start him using your product. You can give him
fuller information. You can follow him up.
That reader might not again read one of your ads in six months.
Your impression would be lost. But when he writes you, you have a
chance to complete with that prospect all that can be done. In that
saving of waste the sample pays for itself.
Sometimes a small sample is not a fair test. Then we may send an
order on the dealer for a full-size package. Or we may make the
coupon good for a package at the store. Thus we get a longer test.
You say that is expensive. So is it expensive to gain a prospects
interest. It may cost you 50 cents to get the person to the point of
writing for a sample. Don’t stop at 15 cents additional to make that
Another way in which samples pay is by keying your
advertisements. They register the interest you create. Thus you can
compare one with another ad, headline, plan and method. That
means in any line an enormous savings. The wisest, most experienced
man cannot tell what will most appeal in any line of copy. With a key
to guide you, your returns are very apt to cost you twice what they
need cost. And we know that some ads on the same product will cost
ten times what others cost. A sample may pay for itself several times
over by giving you an accurate check. Again samples enable you to
refer customers where they can be supplied. This is important before
you attain general distribution.
Many advertisers lose much by being penny-wise. They are afraid
of imposition, or they try to save pennies. That is why they ask ten
cents for a sample, or a stamp or two. Getting that dime may cost
them from 40 cents to $1. That is, it may add that to the cost of
replies. But it is remarkable how many will pay that addition rather
than offer a sample free.
Putting a price on a sample greatly retards replies. Then it
prohibits you from using the word “Free,” as we have stated, will
generally more than pay for your samples.
For the same reason some advertisers say, “You buy one package,
we will buy the other.” Or they make a coupon good for part of the
purchase price. Any keyed returns will clearly prove that such offers
do not pay. Before a prospect is converted, it is approximately as
hard to get half price for your article as to get the full price for it.
Bear in mind that you are the seller. You are the one courting
interest. Then don’t make it difficult to exhibit that interest. Don’t ask
your prospects to pay for your selling efforts. Three in four will
refuse to pay – perhaps nine in ten.
Cost of requests for samples differ in every line. It depends on
your breadth of appeal. Some things appeal to everybody, some to a
small percentage. One issue of the papers in Greater New York
brought 1,460,000 requests for a can of evaporated milk. On a
chocolate drink, one-fifth the coupons published are presented.
Another line not widely used may bring a fraction of that number.
But the cost of inquiries is usually enough to be important. Then
don’t neglect them. Don’t stint your efforts with those you have half
sold. An inquiry means that a prospect has read your story and is
interested. He or she would like to try your product and learn more
about it. Do what you would do if that prospect stood before you.
Cost of inquiries depends largely on how they come. Asking
people to mail the coupon brings minimum returns. Often four times
as many will present that coupon for a sample at the store. On a line
before the writer now, sample inquiries obtained by mail average 70
cents each. The same ads bring inquiries at from 18 cents to 22 cents
each when the coupons are presented at a local store. Most people
write few letters. Writing is an effort. Perhaps they have no stamps in
the house. Most people will pay carfare to get a sample rather than
two cents postage. Therefore, it is always best, where possible, to
have samples delivered locally.
On one line three methods were offered. The woman could write
for a sample, or telephone, or call at a store. Seventy percent of the
inquiries came by telephone. The use of the telephone is more
common and convenient than the use of stamps.
Sometimes it is not possible to supply all dealers with samples.
Then we refer people to some central stores. These stores are glad to
have many people come there. And other dealers do not generally
object so long as they share in the sales. It is important to have these
dealers send you the coupons promptly. Then you can follow up the
inquiries while their interest is fresh.
It is said that sample users repeat. They do to some extent. But
repeaters form a small percentage. Figure it in your cost. Say to the
woman, “Only one sample to a home” and few women will try to get
more of them. And the few who cheat you are not generally the
people who would buy. So you are not losing purchasers, but the
On numerous lines we have for long offered full-sized packages
free. The packages were priced at from 10 cents to 50 cents each. In
certain territories for a time we have checked up on repeaters. And
we found the loss much less than the cost of checking. In some lines
samples would be wasted on children, and they are most apt to get
them. Then say in your coupon “adults only.” Children will not
present such coupons, and they will rarely mail them in.
But one must be careful about publishing coupons good for a
full-size package at any store. Some people, and even dealers, may
buy up many papers. We do not announce the date of such offers.
And we insert them in Sunday papers, not so easily bought up.
But we do not advocate samples given out promiscuously.
Samples distributed to homes, like waifs on the doorsteps, probably
never pay. Many of them never reach the house or the housewife.
When they do, there is no prediction for them. The product is
cheapened. It is not introduced in a favorable way. So with
demonstrations in stores. There is always a way to get the same
results at a fraction of the cost.
Many advertisers do not understand this. They supply thousands
of samples to dealers to be handed out as they will. Could a trace be
placed on the cost of returns, the advertiser would be stunned.
Give samples to interested people only. Give them only to people
who exhibit that interest by some effort. Give them only to people
whom you have told your story. First create an atmosphere of
respect, a desire, an expectation. When people are in that mood, your
sample will usually confirm the qualities you claim.
Here again comes the advantage of figuring cost per customer.
That is the only way to gauge advertising. Samples sometimes seem
to double advertising cost. They often cost more than the advertising.
Yet, rightly used, they almost invariably form the cheapest way to get
customers. And that is what you want.
The argument against samples are usually biased. They may come
from advertising agents who like to see all the advertising money
spent in print. Answer such arguments by tests. Try some towns with
them, some without. Where samples are effectively employed, we
rarely find a line where they do not lessen the cost per customer.